Full site editing is coming in WordPress 5.8

It’s been quite some time since the contentious Gutenberg editor landed in WordPress, and from where I’m sat (as both someone who runs sites and helps others) the new editor looks to have been a roaring success. For sure there were early teething issues around legacy sites adapting, but I can say first hand from working day in, day out with hosting customers that the default Gutenberg interface is far more intuitive for new users than the classic editor ever was. From a personal perspective of running multiple websites with a fairly demanding content schedule, the new tools help create and deploy content much faster too.

So what’s next? Well, even more controversy in the WP world. The next major WordPress core update is to version 5.8, and it’s currently slated for a July 2021 release. With it comes a range of new features, but the biggest of all is a first look at full site editing (FSE). FSE refers to being able to use the Gutenberg block system to go beyond post and page layout changes. The ultimate goal of FSE is to put the Gutenberg blocks system to work for controlling a whole website. At least that’s the end goal – WordPress 5.8’s implementation looks to be something of a halfway house for now.

The update was recently confirmed by the core development team but it’s not quite the final all-encompassing site editor some had hoped for. WP Tavern’s Justin Tadlock confirmed what the summer release will change in practical terms for users:

In WordPress 5.8, users should gain access to the template editor. On the page-editing screen, it allows users to switch out of content-editing mode. From there, they can work on the overall template. Essentially, for this release, it would serve as a landing page builder.

One other feature that users should look forward to is the pattern directory. While it is not ready for integration into the WordPress admin UI, it does not need to be. Users will be able to copy patterns from the directory and paste them directly into their editor. In time, it should become a part of the built-in experience.

As the final release date comes closer and all the features are confirmed we’ll report back with what to expect ahead of the formal 5.8 release.

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